Stamford developer Randy Salvatore announced plans this August to create five new properties stretching across four blocks in the Hill-to-Downtown neighborhood — the area linking the train station and Church Street South.
Salvatore, who is also currently completing the Novella apartment complex at the corner of Chapel and Howe Streets, is spearheading this new project with his firm, RMS Companies. The developer and his associates announced the plans for the project at a meeting Wednesday, Aug. 19th at the Wilson Branch Library on Washington Avenue. Current plans for development include both commercial and residential buildings, including the construction of approximately 100 apartments along Gold Street, the tearing down of the Welch Annex to make way for 80,000 square feet of commercial offices and bioscience facilities, and the construction of additional commercial facilities atop a surface lot on Church Street.
According to Salvatore, he and RMS Companies are building off a plan developed by Ward 6 Alder Dolores Colon and other community members who attended public meetings over the past few years.
“We’re here to develop specific plans and flesh out general concepts found in the community plan,” said Salvatore. “For instance, if they wanted an apartment building constructed, we would develop the building itself, what the facade would look like, how many units are in there, etc.”
The specifics of the project are still under consideration, and Salvatore said he intends to solicit advice from the Downtown-to-Hill community as he continues the project.
“We’re trying to work with the community, we’re not going in there with a plan and saying ‘we’re trying to do this,’” said Stephanie Odenath, senior director of strategy and development at RMS Companies. “We want to get a feel for what New Haven residents would want before we begin.”
Salvatore said he would prefer to hire within New Haven, noting that he would like to hire 100 percent New Haven residents if there are enough qualified people available.
The Hill-to-Downtown neighborhood was isolated from its surrounding neighborhoods when the Route 34/Oak Street connector — a section of freeway that begins at the junction of Interstate 95 and Interstate 91 and ends at York Street — was constructed 50 years ago. The neighborhood has remained undeveloped and underused compared to the downtown and Hill neighborhoods.
Salvatore’s effort is not the first attempt to develop the neighborhood. In 1989, officials entered into a Land Disposition Agreement to give the land to Hartford developer John Schnip for his $360 million project Downtown South Hill North/Washington Center. However, the project was never completed.
Salvatore plans to bring the current proposal before the Board of Alders within the next 30 days. For the project to go forward, the alders would have to prematurely expire the 1989 Land Disposition Agreement, which was originally due to end in 2025.
“There will be multiple phases to the project,” Salvatore said. “In particular, the construction of the biotech and bioscience facilities would require us to acquire a tenant.”
Assuming that the alders support the project, Salvatore hopes to begin immediately on the apartments, which he said could be completed within 10 to 12 months.
Latoya Cowan, the economic development officer for the city, said that New Haven has been partnering with Salvatore and the Economic Development Corporation to organize platforms through which community members could offer feedback on the proposal. In addition, Salvatore said New Haven developer Cliff Winkel, who has been involved with the Downtown-to-Hill development project in the past, will collaborate with and advise RMS Companies on the process of implementing the project day-to-day.